Sweet N Spicy Roasted Eggplant Sandie

I used to detest Eggplant. I thought it was slimy and bitter and seedy. But eggplant is kind of like okra, you just gotta show it a little love, treat her kindly and cook her right! Then it’ll B-L-O-W your mind and the possibilities for it are endless. These days I ALWAYS either have a raw 🍆 on hand, or some prepared, leftover cooked eggplant to eat/play with.

And who doesn’t like a good sandie? Especially when it’s huge and bursting with flavor! The secret to this one, IMO, is the flavored eggplant and the pesto.

Ok, so here we go. Here’s what you will need for the eggplant:

1 eggplant, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ slices

2tsp garlic chili paste

2tbsp Bragg’s aminos

1/2tsp brown sugar

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Ok,

Step 1: preheat your grill to about 400*

2. Mix the brown sugar and lemon juice into the braggs liquid aminos in a separate bowl.

3. Brush both sides of the eggplant with garlic chili paste.

4. Dip brushed eggplant into the aminos/brown sugar mixture

5. Grill eggplants for about 7-9 min on each side… i like mine a little charred on the outside so I go for a bit longer.

* this makes about 6 slices or servings, so just contain what you don’t use, pop it in the fridge and reheat in a pan/skillet for the next day!

To assemble the sandwich, just take your bread of choice. Slather both slices with this pesto, or pesto of choice. Then add your tomatoes and eggplant slice (or slices 🍆😳) on one piece of the bread. Then add the arugula (or spinach works well) on the other and weigh the leafy greens down with the avocado- it’s easier to close the sandie this way. It miiiight be a bit of a challenge to smash the sandwich together, but it’s doable AND worth it 🤤

Pesto

Let’s talk about pesto. Delicious. Versatile. Packed with antioxidants and vitamins. Bursting with flavor. Pretty much all things yummy.

But I feel like it gets a bad rap for being too expensive, ingredient exclusive and labor intensive to make. Orrr maybe I just gave it that rap 🤣

I remember making this with my aunt and cousins. It was a blast, but I remember literally plucking BUSHELS of basil, toasting bags upon bags of pine nuts, using gallons of olive oil and huge Costco containers of Parmesan. Then we would spend the entire evening whirring these ingredients up in a food processor. And I mean, we made quite a bit of pesto, but I remember being shocked at how countertops full of ingredients could be reduced to a few jars of <delicious> green paste.

It just seemed like making pesto, while a delicious and fun family project, would always be expensive and laborious.

And I’ve recently discovered that that isn’t always the case. I’ll admit that my summertime pesto always has basil because it’s so easy to grow, but my nuts and oils always vary to what I have on hand. Sometimes I even use avocados in place of some of the nuts/oils.

And my winter time pesto… I never know what’s gonna be in that. Sometimes it’s arugula. Sometimes it’s a mix of spinach and other herbaceous leafy greens. I’ve used kale.

And I think I’ve used every nut imaginable. The only ones I don’t recommend are peanuts and pecans… just too sweet and powerful, without being complimentary to the Parmesan and greens. I also highly recommend toasting. Adds an extra step, but really enhances the flavor. But if you’re in a pinch for time, not toasting them is still fine. Walnuts, macadamia, pine, Brazil and hazel- nuts all work well, in my opinion.

Anyhoo. I’m rambling. But I encourage you to play with pesto! It’s fun and Inthink you’d be surprised at the yummy combos you can make 🤗

Below is the recipe for the pictured pesto, and below are other yummy combos I’ve tried, with about the same ingredient ratios 🤗

Summer Basil Pesto

2c. Basil (packed)

2/3c toasted, then cooled walnuts

2/3c Parmesan cheese

1/2c EVOO

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Recipe:

Place basil on the bottom of a food processor/vitamix. Squeeze lemon over top. Add walnuts and Parmesan cheese. Pulse until ingredients are well incorporated. Slowly add oil until the mixture becomes pasty (you may have to play around with the amount of oil here).

Try not to eat it all with a spoon.

I love this on Pesto Zoodles. On crackers. With carrots. With pasta. In this pasta salad. With slices of tomato. Gosh just about anything I want to give a flavor boost really!

Here are some other combos I’ve really enjoyed:

Arugula-macadamia nuts-avocado

Basil-pine nuts-EVOO

Baby kale-walnut-EVOO

Parsely-pine nut-avocado oil

Arugula Pesto Zoodles

Another amazing recipe from Mark Sissons Book: The 21 Day KETO Reset. I often tweak the pesto ingredients, but the macadamia nuts work really well with the avocado and the zucchini I must admit! This dish is on repeat over here and I have it a lot with the Macadamia Crusted Fish, like this recipe here!

Ingredients:

2-4 Zoodled Zucchinis, (depending on how saucy you like your Zoodles

2cups arugula

Kosher Salt

1/4c Macadamia Nuts

2 garlic cloves, chopped or 2 tbsp minced garlic

½ small avocado

1/4c Romano Cheese

dash pink himalaya sea salt

dash black pepper

½ EVOO

Directions:

  1. Toss Zoodles with kosher salt and let sit in a strainer for 20 minutes, or longer. You can rinse or not, if you rinse them, you’ll have to dry them again in a towel. Sometimes I just don’t have time for this, so I just use as much Kosher Salt in the beginning as I want to season them with…
  2. For the Pesto: pulse arugula, garlic and macadamia nuts in a food processor or on low in a Vitamix until the mixture is coarse. You’ll probably need to scrape down the sides. Add avocado, cheese salt and pepper. Then add the EVOO slowly while the blender or food processor is running.
  3. Saute the zoodles with some butter or spray. I do this by creating a large layer of zoodles and letting them cook for 1 minute. Then I gently toss them and leave undisturbed for another minute.
  4. Remove from heat and add your pesto. Toss to make sure it all gets coated on there.

Again, this goes really really well with the macadamia crusted Mahi Mahi!!